169 Adult brainstem glioma mimicking as a neuro-infectious process: case report and literature review

Background and Aim

Brainstem gliomas are rare, accounting for less than 2% of adult gliomas. They are difficult to diagnose and challenging to treat [Hu et al, 2016]. Here, we report a patient with an unusual clinical presentation of brainstem glioma, supported by radiological and histopathological findings.

Clinical presentation

A 61-year old male retired diver presented with 2-month history of worsening occipital headache, described as a constant pressure worse on lying down with migrainous features of nausea and light-sensitivity, and intermittent episodes of double vision and poor balance.

Neurological examination on admission was normal. He progressed to develop double vision, left-sided weakness and worsening swallowing and respiratory function.


Blood tests for infections and vasculopathy were negative. Two CSF samples taken showed high protein (1.7g and 3.25g respectively) with the first showing 100% lymphocytes and the latter 56% monocytes and 42% lymphocytes. There were no malignant cells on immunophenotyping.

MRIs demonstrated progressive of ring-enhancing lesions in brainstem in keeping with inflammatory con- ditions. Biopsy was not possible due to the centrally-located lesions. Despite receiving wide spectrum antimicrobials, steroids and respiratory support, he died 2 months later. Autopsy of the brain showed a glioblastoma with brainstem infiltration and cystic necrosis in the pons.


Gliomatosis pattern and leptomeningeal and nerve root spreading of brainstem glioblastoma can be misleading signs with neuro-infections as a differential. Early neurosurgical intervention may aid diagnosis.